With hopeful results for immunocompromised patients, a study published on Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine showed that the drug Keytruda, which is produced by Merck for the treatment of cancer, for patients with the HIV virus that causes AIDS, also with cancer, that immunotherapy is effective. It may also help flush the virus from human immune cells.
Sharjah 24 – Reuters:
Researchers conducting a study of the use of Merck’s cancer drug Keytruda for HIV patients with AIDS who also have cancer report that immunotherapy may also help flush the virus from human immune cells.
The researchers explain that this reveals an interesting area of study for the treatment of chronic HIV infection.
Currently, antiretroviral therapies allow many people with HIV to live a normal life, but the drugs do not mean that the body will get rid of the virus completely, as the remaining stock of virus means that patients have not really recovered from the infection.
Keytruda, also known as pembrolizumab, is a monoclonal antibody designed to help the body’s immune system fight cancer by blocking a protein known as programmed death receptors that tumors use to evade disease-fighting cells.
These drugs work by releasing molecular brakes or checkpoints that tumors use to evade the body’s immune system, allowing immune cells to recognize and attack cancer cells in the same way they would fight infection with bacteria or viruses.
And an international team of researchers indicated that it had found evidence that these drugs are able to nullify the latency of the HIV virus, that is, the virus’s ability to “hide” inside the cells of people living with it, depending on an antiviral treatment.
The study, published Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine, included 32 people with both cancer and HIV through the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. The participants were also being treated with effective antiviral drugs to suppress HIV. .
Professor Sharon Lewin, director of the Peter Duarte Institute for Infection and Immunology in Melbourne, Australia, said in a statement that pembrolizumab is capable of disrupting HIV stocks.
Her group examined blood samples from study participants before and after the treatment.
Lewin confirmed that work on these samples will continue to understand how the drug modulates the immune response to HIV.
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